Oral Cancer Screening
Oral cancer screenings are important in diagnosing cancers. Regular check-ups with us at can detect any changes and ensure you receive the appropriate treatment early.
Oral cancer refers to cancer that develops in the mouth. This includes the lips, gums, tongue, inside the cheek, roof of the mouth, and the floor of the mouth.
What Does Oral Cancer Screening Entail?
During an oral cancer screening examination, the dentist checks the inside of your mouth for unusual patches of discoloration, lesions, or mouth sores. They may also feel for lumps in the soft tissues of the mouth, or around the neck and throat. Sometimes, the dentist may carry out additional tests that show up abnormal cells, such as asking you to rinse your mouth with a special dye, or by shining a light in your mouth.
Signs and Symptoms
It is important to remember that oral cancers are rare and that any changes in your mouth may be due to other diseases rather than cancer. Some of the signs to be aware of are white or red patches on the inside of the mouth, a growth or lump, sores that don’t heal, pain in the mouth or ears, loose teeth, and discomfort when swallowing.
Some lifestyle factors increase the risk of oral cancer. Smoking cigarettes is well-known, but so too is smoking pipes and cigars, as well as chewing tobacco. Large amounts of regular alcohol consumption is also a risk, and even more so when combined with tobacco use.
Other risk factors include being male, as men are at a greater danger of developing oral cancer than women. Poor nutrition, chronic sun damage, a family history of cancer, a weakened immune system, and the human papillomavirus (HPV) infection are also potential hazards.
How Is Cancer Diagnosed?
Cancer screening is not a diagnostic test. The dentist may recommend a follow-up visit in a few weeks to see if the suspicious area has changed.
The next step will be to take a biopsy, which is collecting cells from the suspicious area via a brush or tissue biopsy. The brush biopsy is painless and simply collects cells by sweeping a small brush over the area. A soft tissue biopsy is a small, surgical procedure commonly performed by dentists. The biopsy is then sent to a laboratory to analyse the cells under a microscope.
Depending on where the suspicious area is, the dentist may also perform an x-ray of the jaw or a CT scan. They may also refer you to a cancer specialist (oncologist) for further assessment.
Oral cancer screening is nothing to be afraid of. It is simply another preventive care measure to detect problems early, which leads to early diagnosis and a wider range of effective treatment options. For patients at risk of oral cancer, it is an opportunity to have their minds put at ease, and to seek professional help for minimizing risk by taking advantage of appropriate support, for example smoking cessation services.
Get in touch with us at HomeTown Dental at Irving for information about our oral cancer screening services by calling us on (469) 599-2020.